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Houston Texans Transcripts ...


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September 18, 2015

Houston Texans Transcripts (9/18): Rick Smith & Bill O'Brien

Houston Texans Transcripts
Friday, September 18, 2015
(Transcribed by Charles Hampton, Omar Majzoub and Ellie Pardee)
 
Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Rick Smith
Head Coach Bill O’Brien
 
Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Rick Smith
(opening statement) “After cooperation and collaboration with the NFL, the decision has been made to change the surface that we play on here at NRG Stadium from the natural grass tray system to an artificial surface. Our players have always enjoyed playing on natural grass here, and I think if you asked them, they would tell you to a man that they prefer to play on natural grass versus an artificial surface. But it’s our responsibility, both at the club level as well as the league level, to protect players from unnecessary risk. The decision was made in the interest of that. We will install an AstroTurf surface, very similar to the surface that SMG (Stadium Management Group) has here. We will use SMG’s officials, the NFL’s officials, AstroTurf officials to make sure that we install a quality field, and we will play on that for the remainder of the 2015 season. In conjunction with that, we’re hopeful that we can get with the convention corporation (Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation) and SMG and find a solution for the tray system to ensure that we can return to a natural surface moving forward.”
 
(on what drove the decision to make this switch) “Well, the installation and the performance of the field in the two preseason games, particularly last week in the first regular season game, was just not up to historical standards. Our field here at NRG Stadium has tested very well in the past. We have always been, there’s a perception, I think a misconception that because of the nature of the way the field is put together on the tray system, that when you see a seam, it’s unevenness, and that has just not been the case historically. I’m on the competition committee, as you know, and we watch and really evaluate every injury over the course of a season and the course of our meetings. We’ve studied all those stats. What I will tell you is relative to lower extremity injuries, the injury rate per 100 injuries across the league when you measure that, grass to artificial surface is obviously grass is a little safer. Even our field relative to other grass fields over the years has tested consistently, lower even from an injury rate standpoint. We’ve been very proud of this field and very comfortable with it. Like I said, our players enjoy playing on it. That has not been the case this year. What we need to do is make sure that we find more consistency like we have had historically. That’s the reason why we’re doing it.”
 
(on what changed with the field) “I don’t know, I’m not an expert in that regard. I will say to you that it could be the condition of the trays, it could be the installation process, it could be the nursery area where we’re storing the field, it could be the weather. I’m not so sure what the reason is. I can tell you that we weren’t necessarily confident that it would improve, and that’s the reason why we’re making the decision.”
 
(on when they first starting talking about making the change) “After the game last week.”
 
(on the field being a constant topic of scrutiny for the Texans) “Again, I think a lot of that has to do with perception. I don’t know that that’s necessarily reality. In fact, I will tell you with the science that we know and our players, it is not reality. It’s just a perception. We want the best for our players, that’s what all of our decisions are predicated on, on doing the best for our players and protecting them from unnecessary risk and doing everything that we can do to win. That’s why we were able to make the decision.”
 
(on how they are able to make this change so quickly because it’s a long and expensive process) “It is, but again, we have an artificial surface that’s current. It’ll be some form of that, some upgraded form of that.”
 
(on if the field is going to be the artificial surface that they already have and use for college and high school games) “No, it’ll be some version of that.”
 
(on if the Chiefs expressed their displeasure with the field after the first regular season game) “Yeah, I mean we are aware over the years of whatever, whether it’s the public perception or whether it is a club that comes in and they have an opinion about the condition of the field, and yes, the Kansas City Chiefs organization expressed some concern last week. What I will tell you is again, historically speaking, the perception hasn’t been the reality. What I will say to you is as it relates to the field, this year and last week in particular, it was a little bit more uneven than normal, a little bit of discoloration and just didn’t perform at the level that it has done historically. Rather than continue to play on the surface, we decided let’s put the breaks on, let’s go to an artificial surface, let’s get with the county, let’s get with SMG, let’s figure out a solution for our tray system, so that we can get back to a high-performing product.”
 
(on the field being similar to what is used for the high school and college games here but not the same field) “That’s correct.”
 
(on what the cost is for the new artificial surface) “I don’t want to get into the cost of it. I will say this to you, I know there’s some innuendo out there that the decision to play on grass versus artificial turf was in some way related to cost, and what I will tell you is that is not the case at all.” 
 
Head Coach Bill O’Brien
(opening statement) "Good afternoon, just a couple updates here. As far as Duane Brown is concerned, I would say, again, that will be a game-time decision. As it relates to Duane Brown, whether he plays or doesn’t play, those types of things, I’m not going to really go into what would happen with the offensive line and things like that. Arian (Foster) was out there again today and we’ll see how that keeps progressing but looks like it’s getting better and better. With that being said, I’ll open it up.”
 
(on if RB Arian Foster did more in practice today) "I would say it was about the same, but I think he’s progressing. He’s doing better.”
 
(on the NRG Stadium surface changing to turf) "I’ll tell you exactly what I told the team. First of all, that’s above my pay grade. Number two, I would say that wherever they tell us to play, that’s where we’re going to play. If they want us to play in a parking lot, we’re going to play in a parking lot. They want us to play on grass, whatever, turf, it doesn’t matter to our players. We just have to go out and play better. Those decisions are above me.”
 
(on T Duane Brown’s progress) "I think he’s making progress. Duane is the type of guy that’s played so much football in this league that he knows what to do on game day, how to get himself prepared to play. We’ll make that decision on game day in communication with him.”
 
(on if he expects any more changes to the roster late in the week) "I don’t know. I could potentially. What’s today? Friday? Yeah, potentially.”
 
(on the offensive line play without T Duane Brown) "I think that’s a good question. I would say I like the versatility, I think there’s guys that can do some different things. They’re tough, tough guys. They learn well. I believe they’re being coached very well. Look, we all need to do better than we did last week, but I think we’ve got some guys that can play different positions.”
 
(on his confidence in WR Keith Mumphery) "That’s what he’s done. He’s played with confidence. He’s a good learner. He’s a very hardworking kid. He’s a humble kid. He comes out every day and puts good days work in. He’s in here. In the offseason after the draft, I remember seeing him here on the weekends, just doing little extra things to try to get out there and play. I think that’s showing up day-in and day-out.”
 
(on how QB Ryan Mallett has done since being named starter) "I think he’s had a good week. Yeah, he’s had a good week pf practice so now he’s got to transfer that to the field.”
 
(on if DE J.J. Watt is the third tight end) "Now that, you’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.”
 
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